Leon Polk Smith


acrylic and tempera on paper
24 1/2 x 18 inches

Founding father of Hard-Edge minimalist painting of the 1960s, Leon Polk Smith is known for boldly colored, shaped canvases that tested the possibilities of geometric abstraction. His primary influence was Piet Mondrian, but he also found inspiration in artists like Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, and Fernand Léger. His early breakthroughs used canvases and curved lines that generated visual tension and movement, seen here in this work on paper from 1969. Two circular shapes are linked by the border between blue and red passages, but the unaligned circles produce a slippage, a kind of dynamic imbalance, that gives this work its formal punch. A retrospective of Smith’s work was organized by The Brooklyn Museum in 1996. His work is in numerous public and private collections worldwide.